At the yearly Apple WWDC (Worldwide Developer's Conference) held at the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco, CA, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the features coming to OS X Lion, iOS 5 and the launch of a new iCloud service.
Jobs' keynote focused on software and functionality, and served to showcase improvements in Apple's operating systems, while introducing developers to features that they can access in the upcoming versions of OS X and iOS.
War of the Cloud Services
iCloud http://www.marketnews.ca/LatestNewsHeadlines/TheSkinnyonAppleiCloud.html is a free, new cloud service from Apple that stores and synchronizes applications across the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC. The user's content is automatically and wirelessly stored in iCloud, and automatically and wirelessly pushed to all of the user's other "i" devices.
iCloud will replace Apple's much maligned MobileMe service, which offered Web-based e-mail, online disk storage, calendar and contact synchronization. MobileMe, which costs users $100 each year, was criticized for lacking in features, and for its poor integration with Apple's other products. "That wasn't our finest hour," Jobs said. "But we learned a lot."
When changing a document on any device, iCloud automatically pushes the changes to all other devices. Users get up to 5GB of free storage for their mail, documents and backup; but the storage for music, apps and books purchased from Apple, and the storage required by new Photo Stream feature, doesn't count towards this 5GB total. Users will be able to buy even more storage, with details announced when iCloud ships this fall.
iCloud has long been in the works. Apple purchased music-streaming service Lala in 2009 and built two large server farms to support the hosting and serving of streaming content. The server farms, the first a 500,000 square foot server farm in Maiden, NC and the second reportedly in Santa Clara, CA, are expected to serve as the backbone for this massive cloud initiative.
iTunes in the cloud is really the lynchpin feature of the iCloud initiative. It enables subscribers to access their iTunes music collections from any device. For songs that were not purchased from iTunes, which were ripped from CDs or downloaded from other sources, Apple will offer Music Match, a service that replaces your music if iTunes can match it to the over 18 million songs in the iTunes Store. It makes the matched music available in minutes (instead of weeks to upload your entire music library), and uploads only the small percentage of unmatched music. iTunes Match will cost $24.99 a year and will be U.S. only.
iCloud already has competition. Google recently launched its Music Beta by Google which supports the online storing of 20,000 songs, is also open only to U.S. customers, and can access the content via browsers of Android devices.
Amazon.com launched its Amazon Cloud Drive in March. The service provides users with 5 GB of storage space by default, with further storage space costing one dollar per gigabyte, per year. Users who purchase an MP3 album through Amazon before the end of 2011 will automatically be upgraded to 20 GB of cloud storage for one full year. This service is also limited to U.S. users.
iOS 5 Goes After BBM
There were many notable new features discussed for iOS 5, http://www.marketnews.ca/LatestNewsHeadlines/DetailsonApplesiOS5.html the new mobile operating system for iPhones and iPods. Notification Centre is a one-stop repository of all notifications; the iPhone and iPad unlock screen will also display more information. Tighter Twitter integration, a central magazine and newspaper subscription app called Newsstand, a new Reminders app, and enhanced Camera and Photos functionality were all popular features with the attending developers.
But the killer announcement for iOS 5 is iMessage, a new iOS-focused messaging service that will rival BlackBerry's popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) messaging system. iMessage is built right into the Messages app, and allows users to send text messages, photos, videos or contact information to a person or group on other iOS 5 devices using WiFi or 3G. Just like with BBM, users will also see a receipt of message delivery, message read status, and when the person is typing a reply.
The best thing is that users with multiple devices will be able to continue conversation streams since everything is updated, through iCloud, in real time. Start an iMessage on your iPhone and you can continue where you left off on your iPad. Considering that there already are 200 million iOS devices that might benefit from iMessage gives Apple a great advantage in the long run.
iOS 5 for future users is a PC-Free activation, which is another benefit. iPads and iPhones will no longer require connections to a Mac or PC running iTunes in order to set up and sync. Users with existing Apple accounts will be able to sync everything wirelessly as well. iOS 5 also ushers in over-the-air system upgrades, which makes it possible to get the latest updates without needing to tether to iTunes. iOS 5 is scheduled for a Fall release.
OS X Lion
OS X Lion http://www.marketnews.ca/LatestNewsHeadlines/NewLionMacOSLikeiOS.html is the next version of the desktop operating system for Apple, and it is expected to come in the Fall, but will only be available as a download from Apple's Mac App Store. Lion will be a 4GB download and will cost $29.99 which is big news since each major OS X update cost $129.99 and was traditionally sold in DVD form.
All photos by Gadjo Sevilla